Airmen more than just Fit to Fight

From left to right, 1st Lt. Brian Williams, Senior Airman Kamaile Chan, 2nd Lt. Joel Hansen and Col. Merrily Madero, Goodfellow Ninjas team members, complete the biking leg of the Laughlin Adventure Race April 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julio Brito)

From left to right, 1st Lt. Brian Williams, Senior Airman Kamaile Chan, 2nd Lt. Joel Hansen and Col. Merrily Madero, Goodfellow Ninjas team members, complete the biking leg of the Laughlin Adventure Race April 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julio Brito)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Do you think you truly exemplify the "fit-to-fight" mindset? Twenty of our own here at Goodfellow Air Force Base, both military and civilian, proved that they truly embody that warrior spirit during events that took place at the 4th Annual Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Adventure Race, April 26. Physically and mentally challenging themselves, these warriors took part in 26 miles of on-and off-road mountain biking that took racers from the middle of Laughlin through off-road trails on base, into Del Rio, along Highway 90 West and then to the Air Force's Southwinds Marina at Lake Amistad National Recreation Area.

From the marina, bicyclists could, depending on their team, swap out with other team members at designated checkpoints, allowing everyone on the team to take needed breaks along the way--all four team members were required to stay within 100 feet of each other at all times. The other option was the four-man extreme team which could make no substitutions during the entire race. Those teams began an approximately 8-mile run that would take them right up to the U.S.-Mexico border and international bridge on Lake Amistad. Halfway through the run, the four runners would carry a litter of sandbags up an access road at Amistad Dam and down again--roughly 90 pounds of weight over approximately one quarter mile.

Once the litter carry was completed, the participants ran back to Governor's Landing recreation site on Lake Amistad where the four runners split off. Two would begin the raft at Governor's Landing and switch at the half-way point with two other team members waiting for them at the Marina. After reaching the landing, the final two rafters had to hoist and run with their raft and oars about a quarter mile to the finish.

Finishers were welcomed with drinks, barbeque, music and a cheerful audience awaiting their return. According to 17th Training Wing vice commander and Goodfellow Ninja team member Col. Merrily Madero, "The race was awesome, a real team event. All eight of us had to pull together to complete the race. The most challenging part for me was keeping up with my bike team--they are fantastic athletes and competitors."

Sixty-four teams took part in this year's race--two eight-man relay teams and one four-man extreme team represented Goodfellow. The Goodfellow Ninjas--Col. Madero, Maj. Michael Hulin 17th Contracting Squadron commander, 1st Lt. Brian Williams, 17 CONS; 2nd Lt. Joel Hansen, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron; 2nd Lt. Rosa Krauss, 17 CONS; Senior Airmen Julio Brito and Kamaile Chan, 17 TRW, and Mr. Nicholas Kwit, 17 CONS, took 16th overall with a time of 3 hours, 58 minutes and 3 seconds.

"I enjoyed seeing all the airmen digging deep to be the best and going way beyond just a 1.5 mile run," said Maj. Hulin. "I believe this really showcases the true Air Force warrior spirit and where we need to be as far as fitness with handling the new demands of being a true expeditionary force."

The Ninjas were followed by the Mismatched Misfits, who placed 37th overall with a time of 4 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds. Team members were Master Sgt. Brian Jazek, 312th Training Squadron; Tech Sgt. Edmundo Cruz, 17th Medical Operations Squadron; Staff Sgts Larry Ray, Christy Compeau, and Ben Ortlip, 312 TRS; Airman 1st Class Sean Devereaux, 17th Medical Support Squadron; and Mr. Kelly Dunn and Mrs. Mari Dunn, 17th Comptroller Squadron.

One four-man extreme team represented Goodfellow, the Extreme Fellas, who finished 59th overall with a time of 5 hours, 31 minutes and 15 seconds. The team members were--Staff Sgt. Michael Gonzales and Airman 1st Class Timothy Lyons, 17 CES; 2nd Lt. Thomas Griesemer, 315th Training Squadron Student, and Airman 1st Class Angel Bautista, 17th Mission Support Squadron.

"I thought the race was a blast and I am definitely doing it next year," said Sergeant Ray. "The toughest part to me was paddling the inflatable rubber raft one mile with cheap plastic paddles. If people think that sounds easy, I invite them to try."